The order being implemented by City of Kigali and districts in partnership with security forces, concerns properties which were developed in the wetlands after the ban on settling in wetlands in 2005 while those which settled before will be evicted later as the government finds the budget for expropriation, according to Remy Norbert Duhuze, Director of Environmental Regulation and Pollution Control at REMA.
The deadline for relocation expired a fortnight ago when a team of officials from REMA, City of Kigali and security personnel closed down businesses in the wetland between the sectors of Kacyiru and Gisozi in Gasabo District. But Duhuze said the exercise continues to forcefully relocate all from 7,700 hectares of wetlands in Kigali and later reach out to all other parts of the country.
“We have started in the city because, unlike in rural areas where farms absorb a good quantity of water, concrete works due to many constructions in the city do not allow water seepage to the soils and almost all the rain-storm water flows to the wetlands which help in flood water control and replenishing underground water. They also constitute biological diversity reservoirs,” Duhuze told IGIHE on Friday.
He said that after the expiry of seven days, some people were granted a period ranging from one month to one year after presenting their relocation plans.
“Government had always told property owners to relocate but people ignored the order. We want to restore wetlands that have been laid to waste. Some will serve as beautification landscapes of the city. We are now targeting properties without settlement permits,” he said.
Tenants in residential houses have also been given 15 days expiring on October 5, 2017 but some plead with the government for time extension so that they find other houses away from wetlands.
A mother of two children who preferred anonymity said she found it hard to get means for renting another house within 15 days because house owners require rent fee of three months for a tenant to enter the house, adding that she is unsure of her future after the expiry of deadline. She is a widow and has been paying a rent of Rwf13,000 in Gisozi Sector, Musezero Cell, Amarembo Village.
Godlev Mukagasana, an elderly woman who owns a house in the area, said she is worried of her future in case she is evicted without compensation so that she can buy land and build another house somewhere else.
“I sold my land plot upcountry and bought this plot and built this small house five years ago. I am not sure if I will be compensated because I do not have settlement permits. I am likely to become a wanderer on the streets because I do not have means to pay rent,” she said.
Rwanda’s wetlands represent about 14.9% of the national territory, including 6.3% for marshes and 8.6% for lakes, rivers and permanent or seasonal fresh water pools.